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Mentors or Friends? How Managers Want to Be Perceived

Mentors or Friends? How Managers Want to Be Perceived
Credit: Raftu/Shutterstock

Although most bosses want their employees to view them as mentors, some would prefer to be seen as friends, new research shows.

Overall, 63 percent of managers hope to be perceived as mentors, while more than 30 percent would like to be seen as teachers, supervisors and coaches, according to a new study from the staffing services firm Addison Group.

However, the youngest bosses — those of the millennial generation ­— are looking for more of a friendship type of relationship. Millennials are twice as likely to hope that their direct reports perceive them as their best friends, compared with their baby boomer and Gen X counterparts.

No matter how they're viewed, millennials are eager to be in charge. More than 80 percent of Gen Y workers have shown some interest or excitement in being a manager, compared to just 57 percent of workers in other age groups.

The problem for millennials is finding a managerial position where they feel comfortable. The study revealed that 76 percent of millennials are hesitant to manage a colleague who is older than they are, which could pose a problem in the current workforce environment that is still heavily populated by baby boomers and Gen X workers. [Buddy Up to Your Boss ... You'll Be Glad You Did ]

However, when it comes to what employees are looking for in a boss, age isn't a major concern. The majority of the workers surveyed in the Addison Group study said the most important qualities in their bosses include the ability to give honest feedback and their willingness to trust them. Many respondents also noted that an ideal manager makes time for them, is collaborative and has experience in their field.

The researchers discovered that to attract new candidates to an organization while retaining top talent, employers should work on creating a work environment that encourages career development and collaboration, as professional development opportunities are a top consideration for employees in the job search today.

The study's authors said that with nearly 30 percent of all workers tying their professional growth to their boss, it's critical that businesses ensure managers are trained to foster career growth for employees. The study found that this is especially true of millennial employees, who value a manager's role in their professional development more than any other age group does.

"The more managers can understand what boomers, Gen X and millennials need and want in terms of managerial style, rewards and leadership opportunities, the more successful employees can be — not to mention, the benefits employers can reap from an employee-retention standpoint," Addison Group CEO Thomas Moran, said in a statement.

The study was based on surveys of 1,006 working Americans born between 1946 and 1995.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.